Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

November 30, 2009

Some Thanksgiving Wrap-up, Happy Birthday Mr. Clemens, and an Important Announcement

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:55 pm
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So I never got around to finish my Thanksgiving coverage during my vacation last week, but here are a few pieces of information I promised about the holiday.

First of all, in mathematics, we did a little work with some numbers related to Thanksgiving.  Students applied some knowledge about written and standard notation, units of measurment, and estimation to try to match up some numbers with some facts related to Thanksgiving courtesy of the US Census Bureau.  Other than simply taking the census every 10 years, the Census Bureau keeps busy with all kinds of other facts and figures, and periodically they publish figures relating to a holiday.  I took information from this press release and mixed it up so that students had to work to put it back together the best that they could.  For instance, did you know that a projected 250,000,000 turkeys will be raised in the United States in 2009 and be sold for an estimated $3,900,000,000.  Also, 1,800,000,000 pounds of sweet potatoes are forecasted to be grown in the U.S. in 2009, with 437 million of those pounds being grown in the state of California.  Additionally, we learned some other kinds of info such as the fact that there are 3 places In the U.S. called turkey, 5 called some spelling variation of Cranberry, and 28 called Plymouth, and that the average American eats 13.8 pounds of turkey a year.  For more facts like these take a look at the Thanksgiving Press Release and other holiday press releases on the US Census Beurau’s Facts for Features webpage.

As to some other info about the history of Thanksgiving, in class we looked at a timeline of events related to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Some of the important dates included in 1631 when a formal declaration of Thanksgiving was made when a ship full of supplies that was feared to be lost at sea pulled into Boston Harbor, December 18, 1775, when the Continental Congress declared December 18 to be a national day of Thanksgiving in celebration of the win at the Battle of Saratoga, November 26, 1789, when George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation by a President of the United States, and October 3, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for a nationwide day of Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November. As we discovered, Thanksgiving has roots that expand beyond just the harvest celebration in 1621.

Today, we started the week off with a quickwrite on a quote by Mark Twain.  We will revisit his words several times this week in recognition of his birthday on November 30, 1835.  Do any of you readers out there have a favorite Mark Twain quote?  I always enjoy hearing his clever wit and witticisms.

For vocabulary this week, we are focusing on the roots micro, mega, super, and hyper.  We will learn more about the words tomorrow, and then add some sentences to the wiki later on.

Several of the students did their poetry recitations today in class, and I must say I was very impressed.  The students who shared obviously put a great deal of effort into practicing and memorizing the words of their poems.  The whole class really enjoyed listening to a wide variety of poems.  I am excited to hear the rest of them over the next few days.

Speaking of poetry, our next big fundraising event is just around the corner, and it happens to involve some poetry.  I sent home some additional information and an availability sign up sheet about the book sale and poetry reading going on at Books Inc. on 4th st. on Saturday from 6pm to 9pm.  Here is a copy of the flier.  We hope to see lots of 5th Grade families and other BAM families too!


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary Sort
  2. Mathematics:  Decimal review worksheet
  3. Other:  Return availability sheet for Books Inc. fundraiser by Wednesday.
  4. Reading:  Read for 20 minutes and write predictions in Reading Log.

Mr. Weis



November 23, 2009

An Hiftorical Perfpective on Thankfgiving

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 9:55 pm
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(Yes, the title is spelled that way on purpose in an attempt by Mr. Weis to replicate the look of a leading s in old forms of English writing.  For more info on deciphering old handwriting and that pesky s that looks like an f, follow this link to a helpful article.)

When it comes to holidays, I usually start out by having students reflect on what they really know about the substance and history of the holiday.  Today we took a quick detour from our Age of Exploration Unit, and skipped ahead to the year 1621 to a place known as the Plimoth Colony. We began by formulating lists of what we really knew about the history of Thanksgiving as well as some questions we had about what really happened.

As we do our research, we will look at both primary and secondary sources.  Whenever we look into studying history, it is important to differentiate between primary and secondary sources.  Primary sources come to us straight from the period or people we are studying, while secondary sources are responses and resources that collect primary sources together with additional commentary.  For example, a map made in the 1620s by John Smith of the Massachusets Bay is a primary source.  A map made by a modern historian that plots the locations of all the American Indian and European settlements using previous maps, archeological resources, and modern geographical knowledge is a secondary source.  Secondary sources are important because they are one of the only ways to get a broad view of complex histories.  However, secondary sources also often include some commentary and bias, not to mention the fact that they don’t allow us to independently question and connect historical events and people together.  Looking at primary sources can sometimes be a great way to formulate our own opinions and observations.  Of course, we must still be mindful that primary sources bring with them the bias and perspectives of their creators, but that can also add to the complex lens that we must apply as we look back as critical thinkers and historians.

Through some careful research, the only 2 primary sources I was able to locate about the original Thanksgiving were a letter written by a Plimoth settler named Edward Winslow and references to oral histories of the Wampanoag people that their tribal leader Massasoit attended an event.  The people who run Plimoth Plantation as a living history exhibit today put together a nice website with lots of information and a step by step method of looking back at this information to both challenge and build on popular modern-day interpretations of Thanksgiving.  We began to look at the website today and will spend a little more time tomorrow.  You can take a look at the main Plimoth website here, and you can visit their site about Investigating the First Thanksgiving here. Next week we will resume our studies about the Age of Exploration and apply some of the learning about primary and secondary sources as the students begin their work on some projects.

Here is a copy of the letter Edward Winslow wrote in 1621 that was printed in a book called Mourt’s Relation in 1622.  See what you can learn about what might have happened from the letter.  Be careful as you read it because the letter s looks a lot like how we write the letter f today. Tomorrow I will post some more information about  the history of what is now celebrated widely in the United States as Thanksgiving as well as the results to the numerical estimation matching game we did in class today.


  1. Language Arts: Complete Poetry Packet Due (Interview, Planning, Rough Draft, Final Draft, Poem Info, and Practice)
  2. Mathematics:  Review mathematical concepts for Unit 3 Test tomorrow.
  3. Vocabulary:  It’s and Its sentences with past vocabulary.
  4. Reading:  Read for 25 minutes and fill out Reading Log.

Mr. Weis

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